JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND on wearing Renee Fleming’s gown, church camp and more.
April 13, 2016
Justin Vivian Bond is a Tony nominated, Obie, GLAAD and Essie winning cabaret star and trans-genre artist. Vocal about being transgender, Justin uses V as a preferred prefix.
The first time Bond took the stage was as a wee babe in a Christmas show at V.’s family’s local Church of the Brethren in sleepy Hagerstown, Maryland, but the rest of the word would have to wait decades before hearing from the sumptuous voice and acerbic wit which made Bond a legend.
After high school and a stint as a counselor at church camp, Bond knocked around New York and studied theater, but didn’t find a niche until moving to San Francisco in 1989. Out West, Bond took a day job at A Different Light bookstore and performed in plays, most notably in Hidden A: Gender by Kate Bornstein, the renowned performance artist and gender theorist. Like Bornstein, Bond spoke shattered simplistic theories, like the idea that everyone who transgender feels trapped in the wrong body. Justin also met the musician Kenny Mellman, and the duo created Kiki & Herb, which went onto become one of the hottest cabaret acts in history. As a result, Bond became synonymous with the character Kiki Durane, a drunk, over-the -hill lounge singer, loosely based on a childhood friend’s mother. The two moved to New York and found an international audience, leading them to play Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House, and in 2006, earning a Tony nod. They are reuniting this year for the first time since 2008 at Joe’s Pub. The entire run sold out two hours after going on sale, although there will be some rush day-of tickets on sale.
But Bond also broke out as a solo performer with records like Dendrophile and Silver Wells, art exhibits, a memoir, and critical role in the cult film Short Bus, signature perfume, and became a bona fide member of New York’s glitterati. You can catch Bond’s solo shows, so you can catch Angeles We Have Heard When High, MX America, and JVB and the Freudian Slippers. Once you hear our conversation, you’ll know why you want to do so.